It's going to be a great year!
The writer of The Wrestler, Robert D. Siegel has done it again with BIG FAN. This human dramedy is riveting and hilarious. It both celebrates and mocks sports fans and the universe they’ve created for themselves to… avoid responsibilities that comes with being mature and responsible. A victorious touch-down by comedian/actor Patton Oswalt in what I describe as a career-defining performance.
It baffles me how a former editor in chief of parody news The Onion, Robert D. Siegel could turn into such a dramatic story screenwriter. Without leaving out the humor, which hits the target if I might add, Siegel is sharp at crafting how and when to bring his lead character to his knees, how and when to make him crash in embarrassing ridicule, one rock bottom situation after another so that he’d be even more of a sad pathetic loser than we expect. BIG FAN in many ways are similar to THE WRESTLER, but the difference is Randy The Ram would consider a better job if something comes along, Patton Oswalt’s character, Paul, on the other hand, is so comfortable in his world that he’s too stubborn to think of doing anything else, nothing you say or do would get through to him
What I admire is that Siegel could create just a few lead very basic characters and make them all essential to Paul and his storyline, none of them is unnecessary. The best friend Sal, played by Kevin Corrigan is not over-the-top, he’s a big fan just like Paul but not as aggressive and is aware of his limits, very faithful and supportive of what Paul strongly believes in. Paul’s ambulance-chasing brother and his sister-in-law are ballbusters, they make sense but money is what they live for, instead of the best friend Sal, they’re the ones who try to give reality check lectures to Paul, and the mom has had enough of Paul’s NY Giants obsession but somehow I think part of her is glad he’s still around as the big baby. Siegel puts Paul in confrontation with each of these characters on separate occasions to let the audience kitness Paul’s breaking point and that he’s willing to take it out on the person next to him if that person or anything for that matter, gets in between him and the NY Giants.
Siegel smartly imagines what a true die-hard sports fan would do and carefully places every possible scenario in BIG FAN. The dialogue is sports sharp, especially the little speeches Paul say on his favorite radio show every night. You don’t have to be a specifically American football fan to appreciate this movie because everyone of us loses temper from time to time during game or when somebody else talks trash about our favorite team. The reaction, the potential aftermath is what Siegel explores with his story that can come across as heavy and depressing but at the same time laugh out loud humorous. It strikes a unique balance. You’ll feel entertained and frustrated at the sight of Paul eating the pain just so that his favorite star who beat him up can play again for his favorite team. This is all that Paul knows, this is all that he lives and breathes and if you rattle the cage, he’ll fight back.. he just won’t fight back the NY giants. But Siegel’s directing could use some tweaking, the look and feel of BIG FAN might be considered a bit too real for a movie-watching experience.
Siegel might score another winning point for his writing but for some reason Siegel always finds himself with an actor who pretty much outshines what he does but I don’t think he minds. I didn’t expect in a million years that someone would create a movie that would allow Patton Oswalt to showcase his dramatic side in a very powerful manner. He’s passionate, unrelenting and remarkable in BIG FAN. What an impressive body of work by the guy who voiced Remi in Ratatouille. BIG FAN is the one movie that Oswalt will be remembered by for years to come.